Arthritis is caused by inflammation of the joints, and it is a condition that anyone can suffer from. You may have one joint impacted, such as your knee or hip, or you may have multiple joints that ache and cause you pain.
Inflammation is often treated with gentle exercises, medication, compression and heat therapy.
However, we also know that there are anti-inflammatory foods that can help combat inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet takes two main concepts:
- Knowing the foods to avoid
- Knowing the foods to eat
If you eat the wrong foods, it will only exacerbate the inflammation, causing your arthritis symptoms to worsen. Let’s look at the foods you shouldn’t be eating first before discussing the best foods for arthritis.
What Foods Make Arthritis Worse?
Anyone with arthritis should keep a close eye on the food that they eat. Eating the wrong foods will only cause the inflammation to worsen and can lead to more aches and pains. The foods that can make arthritis worse are:
- Processed foods. Processed and convenience foods often come in the form of prepackaged meals or baked goods. Tasty and easy to eat, these foods have hydrogenated oils in them, also known as trans fats, that are proven to cause systemic inflammation.
- Omega-6 fatty acids. Some omega fatty acids are great for you, including the omega-3s which come from fish. The problem is that humans tend to eat a lot of the same foods, and if these foods contain omega-6 fatty acids, they can trigger inflammation. The foods that fall into this category are soy, corn, peanut, sunflower and safflower oils. Eating too many meats can also lead to an overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids.
- Sugar. A sweetener that seems to be in everything. Sugar is in chocolate, coffee, soda, breads – virtually everything. When you drink too many sugars, this results in the body producing cytokines, which cause inflammation. Refined sugars aren’t the only sugar you need to worry about. You also have to be cautious of foods that contain maltose, fructose, corn syrup and sucrose.
These are the “big three,” or the foods that are very popular and consumed often. Of course, there are additional foods that can cause inflammation, including:
- Red meat
- Fried foods
- Refined carbs
- High-fat dairy
Moderation is key with everything you eat, and if you’re able to moderate the foods you eat, you’ll at least contribute less to your inflammation.
Can Diet Improve Arthritis?
An anti-inflammatory diet can help you combat arthritis. It’s important that you eat more anti-inflammatory foods than foods that cause inflammation. The right mix of foods will aid in your body keeping inflammation low.
6 Best Foods for Arthritis
If you’re going to stop the stiffness, pain and swelling in your joints, you’re going to need the right foods in your diet. These foods are very healthy, easy on the digestive system and come loaded with health benefits that go well beyond reducing swelling.
The foods that you should be eating include:
Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for having strong anti-inflammatory effects. You must eat the right types of fish, and you don’t want to prepare your food fried. Baking is better, as a lot of the oils used to fry fish are known for causing inflammation.
The fatty fish that are known for fighting inflammation are:
One study including 33 people found that eating fatty fish four times a week resulted in lower levels of inflammation-causing compounds in eight weeks.
An additional study, which included the analysis of 17 studies, found that eating fish or taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements led to lower levels of:
- Morning stiffness
But fish also combats arthritis in another way: Vitamin D. There have been studies that show low levels of Vitamin D may be associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Ginger is a great addition to tea and soups. Easy to add into your diet, ginger was the center of a 2001 study that included 261 participants that had osteoarthritis in their knees. The study lasted for six weeks and concluded that 63% of participants saw improvements in their knee pain.
In another study, scientists found that ginger was able to block the production of substances that are known to increase inflammation.
Additional studies had similar results, with ginger being able to reduce or block inflammation from occurring. You can opt to consume ginger in many forms, including:
Garlic is one of the best foods for arthritis, and it adds a punch of flavor to your favorite dish. Cooking with garlic is common, so you’re likely to be using this ingredient in your foods anyway. Garlic was found to have cancer-fighting properties, and it also contains compounds that are known to fight dementia and heart disease.
The anti-inflammatory properties of garlic are going to provide some relief from arthritis.
An additional study on the diet of 1,082 twins found that the twins that routinely ate higher levels of garlic had a reduced risk of osteoarthritis.
Broccoli is a nice addition to your diet and is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. A well-known reducer of inflammation, broccoli intake has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers in multiple studies.
The vegetable also contains components known to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Sulforaphane is found in broccoli and blocks the formation of certain cells known to contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. Studies on humans and mice show a decrease in arthritis when broccoli is eaten.
Berries is one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can eat. You’ll find a variety of berries that you can eat, including:
A study on over 38,000 women found that inflammation markers in the blood fell 14% after eating just two servings of strawberries per week. Berries of all types are packed with antioxidants and health-boosting properties.
Eat a few servings of berries per week, and you’ll be well on your way to helping reduce the impact of arthritis.
Spinach is a key food in an anti-inflammatory diet that helps decrease inflammation that arthritis causes. There are numerous studies on the benefit of leafy greens and vegetables showing a reduction in inflammation and the symptoms of arthritis.
Spinach is shown to fight back against inflammation and includes arthritic cartilage cells that not only combat inflammation but also prevent osteoarthritis from progressing.
You can eat any of these foods, just a few times a week, and you’ll find that the symptoms of arthritis will subside. You can also eat grapes, walnuts, olive oil and other anti-inflammatory foods to help against arthritis.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.